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Things You Never Noticed In Breaking Bad's First Episode

Rarely, if ever, does the first episode of a series manage to grab you the way that the pilot of "Breaking Bad" does. It's one of the most iconic cold-opens in the history of television: without context, we're watching Walt, wearing only his underwear and a gas mask, drive an RV through the Arizona desert while two dead bodies slosh around in the back. Just like that, millions of viewers worldwide were hooked into the epic saga of Walter White and his rise to becoming a drug kingpin.

The episode, simply titled "Pilot," plays more like a feature film than an episode of television, which is part of why it is often considered one of the greatest pilot episodes of all time. It's worth a rewatch all on its own, even if you're not ready to dive back in for another binge of the AMC crime drama. If you do end up giving it another watch, be on the lookout for these neat little details you might have missed the first time around.

Walter almost won a Nobel Prize

After the tumultuous first few minutes, the episode cuts back in time to Walt waking up in bed and exercising on a pathetic little Stairmaster in his house before breakfast. On the wall of his makeshift exercise room is a small plaque that only appears for a brief moment, but more savvy viewers will realize just how important it is to the story as a whole.

The plaque reads "Walter H White, Crystallography Project Leader for Proton Radiography, 1985" –- and in a much smaller note below, "contributor to research awarded the Nobel Prize." The note at the bottom is the really important part, as we later discover that the whole reason for Walt's unsatisfactory job as a school teacher is because he took a $5000 buyout from the company Gray Matter Technologies, which he started with his friends Elliot (Adam Godley) and Gretchen (Jessica Hecht).

The company went on to become a multi-billion dollar company, and Walt was all but forgotten as an early investor. The plaque is just another reinforcement of how Walter has never truly felt appreciated for his work, listed as only a "contributor" to a Nobel Prize, and gives fans a bit more insight into why he might turn to a life of crime for a shot at recognition.

Krazy 8 was Hank's Informant

It could be argued that the meth dealer turned snitch Krazy 8 is the catalyst for the entirety of the Breaking Bad story. In the pilot, Walt turns to Krazy 8 to try and sell his product — but when Jesse (Aaron Paul) tries to broker a deal with Krazy 8 (Maximino Arciniega), he and his cousin Emilio (John Koyama) accuse Jessie of being a snitch, and hold Walter and Jessie at gunpoint.

Walt is then forced to kill both of them to save his own life, mixing the chemicals in the RV incorrectly so as to produce poisonous gas and choke them out. It's a pivotal moment in the series, made even more interesting by what we would come to find out later about Krazy 8's true nature.

It's later revealed that Krazy 8 was actually the real informant, more specifically, a direct informant to none other than Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) — Walt's brother in law. This is further expanded upon in the prequel series "Better Call Saul," but it is interesting to watch knowing just how differently things could have turned out if Krazy 8 had just run to Hank the moment he met Walt.

Walt foreshadows his own death

When Walt discovers he has terminal cancer, he is shell-shocked, to say the least. Walt stares blankly ahead, ears ringing, and absentmindedly comments on a mustard stain on his doctor's coat. When the doctor asks if he heard him correctly, Walt blandly repeats his diagnosis as though they were chatting about something as trivial as the weather: "Lung Cancer, inoperable... best-case scenario, with chemo, I'll live maybe another couple years."

As it turns out, while the doctor might have been wrong about the cancer being inoperable (as Walter goes into remission in Season 2, though it does later come back), he was exactly right in his prediction about Walter's death, albeit for different reasons. Two years to the day that the series began, on Walt's 52nd birthday, he dies in a shootout with a Neo-Nazi group, fulfilling the grim prognosis he got all the way back in the pilot episode.

Walt left his pants in the desert, but they weren't gone for good

In what is literally the very first shot of the show, we see Walt's khakis flying in the wind against the beautiful backdrop of the Arizona desert, where they crumple into a heap beside the road. The RV speeds past them, and the pants are all but forgotten.

At this point in the story, Walt was incredibly careful with his clothes, always stripping himself down to his underwear when cooking so that he didn't "come home smelling like a meth lab." While it's odd that he doesn't attempt to come back for the pants, which could have been used as evidence, have you ever wondered what happened to those iconic khakis that kicked off the series?

The pants reappear in the critically-acclaimed Season 5 episode "Ozymandius." As Walt is rolling a barrel full of cash across the desert, he passes the crumpled khakis right where he left them — covered in two years worth of sand and debris. It's a neat little callback that brings the whole series full circle and again shows the importance of the attention to detail showrunner Vince Gilligan had all the way back in the very first episode.